On average, 79 million hours of eSports are watched on Twitch each month. According to Newzoo, the global audience will exceed 427 million by 2019 and the revenue will hit $1 billion that same year and that is only the beginning. How you determine the top five games depends on the criteria you look at, but these five have certainly secured their place in the history of eSports.
This complex game is not easy for newcomers to understand but it has been brilliantly promoted by Valve to become one of the most successful games on the planet. The 2014 documentary ‘Free to Play’, which followed three players at the 2011 International, profoundly altered the way in which eSports came to be perceived. The documentary featured basketball star Jeremy Lin who famously compared the preparation by Dota2 competitors to that of professional athletes. No longer were these just kids wasting time on video games, this was serious sport. Valve’s other stroke of genius was the innovative use of crowd funding to swell the prize pool. So far this year 1673 players at 642 tournaments have had the opportunity to win $87,451,000. It may not be the most widely played game in eSports but its huge prize pots have driven up the prize pots of its competitors and fuelled the popularity of eSports in general.
League of Legends
Comprising of thousands of spells and a host of different characters this game has world-wide popularity, although its most famous and successful players are almost entirely Korean. Over one hundred million people play League of Legends every month, making it the most played game in the world. In competition with Dota 2 for the biggest prize pots the 2016 World Championship prize pool was a staggering $5 million with the winner walking away with $2 million. With 1,764 tournaments, so far this year League of Legends is the most betted on of all eSports, accounting for 69% of all bets placed.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive
Currently challenging League of Legends as the most watched eSport, this game is very big in the Americas and Europe and is rapidly growing in popularity in China. It has a long history of being the most popular first person shooter and its clear offence and defence objectives and its five on five format make it much easier for newcomers to follow than other games.
On its release in 1998 the original version of the military, sci fi, real time strategy game was the fastest selling real time strategy game of all time. For the next ten years, it dominated eSports in Korea, where it was described as the national pastime and had two T.V. channels dedicated to it. StarCraft 2 was launched in 2010 to universal acclaim and the subsequent success of Twitch, launched in 2011, was down to the popularity of the game. 2012 saw the rise of the MOBAs and Blizzard, StarCraft’s creators, became embroiled in distribution wrangles with the Korean government. Written off by some as a has been, this game still sits at number four in terms of total prize money awarded and reports of its demise may well prove to be premature.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Just outside the top ten in terms of total prize money awarded, this game has been around since 2003. It doesn’t require a huge amount of skill to be enjoyable, it’s one of the most well-known game brands in the world and it’s not going away anytime soon.